Voters eye $9.3M bond election
Voters in the Fredericksburg Independent School District will decide on a $9.3 million bond program in the upcoming May 5 election.
Officials say the bond package will address issues such as changing student needs, a more rigorous accountability system, the federal Every Student Succeeds initiative, a growing special needs student population and rising operating costs.
“The bonds are now allowed to be used for anything with a life durability of more than one year. They cannot be used for salaries or general operation items such as electricity and water costs,” FISD board member Mark Cornett said. “They can be used for not only building new structures, but rehabilitating buildings and purchasing buses and computers.”
The bond payment timeframe will be set for five years and will not increase the tax rate. Trustees say the tax rate will remain the same, as it has since 2008.
Taxpayers who are age 65 or older and have filed for the senior homestead exemption, will pay the same amount of property tax as their rates have been frozen.
Fredericksburg ISD’s last bond election was in 2015 for $16.5 million. Since that election, construction projects at the primary school and high school have been finished with a few smaller items nearing completion.
Bonds were also passed in 2004, 2008 and 2011.
Providing the district’s students with a high-quality education is at the top of the goal list, said new superintendent Dr. Jeff Brasher.
“Providing a good education is expensive, unfortunately. With that said, being a Chapter 41 district does not lend us the opportunity as many other districts to maximize our funding potential,” Brasher said. “What can we do about that? We can maintain our facilities and make sure our kids have opportunities. I think that is how Fredericksburg is unique in that it needs to have this bond so that we can generate the revenues we need to guarantee our kids receive a first-class education.”
The board of trustees asked district staff to take a look at what would most be needed in the next four to five years. The $9.3 million bond would assist in providing the following:
Heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC); technology (connected classrooms, intercom systems, laptops, iPads, desktops, infrastructure); security (access controls, video surveillance, security lighting, gates and fencing); electric/lighting; roof repairs/replacement; professional fees-architects/engineers; contingency; paving/seal coating; tables, chairs and desks.
Proposed cost: $7,474,848
Buses, vehicles, bus A/C and fuel bay.
Proposed cost: $724,945
Instruments, art panels and band uniforms.
Proposed cost: $360,000
Sidewalks, paint, carpet and countertops
Proposed cost: $239,282
Cafeteria enlargement and testing.
Proposed cost: $183,975
Maintenance & Custodial
Proposed cost: $177,850
FPS, FES, Stonewall and FHS
Plumbing, blinds, carpet, clocks, flooring, storage and canopy.
Proposed cost: $139,100
Early voting begins on Monday, April 23 and will continue through Tuesday, May 1. The polls will be open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at the FISD Administration Office, 234 Friendship Lane.
Election day polls will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday, May 5 at the FISD Administration Office.
What is Chapter 41 Recapture?
-FISD will have to send an estimated $10.4 million Chapter 41 payment back to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) this year alone.
-Since 2004, FISD has paid nearly $80 million in Chapter 41 Recapture payments.
-Recapture payments increase.
Tax Dollar Funds
-During school year 2017-2018, FISD has been receiving $1.14 for every $100 of taxable property value within its boundaries. As a “property wealthy district,” this year’s recapture payment requires FISD to send 31 cents of every local tax dollar to TEA to share with other school districts as part of the state’s school finance system, sometimes called “Robin Hood.”
-There are two major funds that benefit from tax revenue, one is the maintenance and operations (M&O) fund and the other is the interest sinking/debt service fund (I&S). The school district’s tax rate of $1.14 is divided into two parts to provide revenue for these funds.
-The M&O fund covers items such as salaries, instructional materials, Chapter 41 recapture payments, utilities and supplies.
-The I&S/Debt Service fund covers the debt principal and interest payments.
-Every dollar generated within debt service is kept locally, so debt monies are subtracted from the amount which has to be sent to the state.
-State law says money from the funds must remain separate.
-If FISD does not sell bonds to finance items needed, there would be no funds to cover the costs.